IO9’s I was absent-mindedly shoveling cereal into my mouth when the brainfart struck: my hand decided to reroute the incoming spoon’s flight trajectory into my cheek. As I sat there with milk dripping down my chin, my immediate reaction was to blame my hand. But then I realized that my hand had just been following orders. If anyone was to blame here, it was my brain. Turns out that neuroscientists agree with me.
Brain farts, the momentary lapses in attention that strike when you least expect them, may actually be rooted in abnormal patterns of brain activity. Neuroscientists call them “maladaptive brain states.” We spoke to researchers in an emerging field of neuroscience that examines these brain states to learn about the neurological basis of brain farts, their potential evolutionary origins, and how they might one day be a thing of the past.